I guess snowballs are now safe in Hell. Yesterday, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems announced that Sun is now a Windows Server OEM for their x64 systems with Windows Server 2003 R2 to be available preinstalled within 90 days. It’s no surprise that Wintel commoditization is hitting the server market and squeezing the proprietary vendors – the real question is why Sun chose this point in time to embrace Wintel. Peter Burrows at Business Week offers some theories, but the only one that strikes a chord with me is that Sun views it as an opportunity to spread their hardware fixed costs over bigger volume with perhaps a bit of comfort for customers that buying from Sun doesn’t lock them into an evolutionary dead end.
Anyhow, according to the PR, it is all an expansion of the Microsoft-Sun settlement/alliance announced in April 2004 and included these other talking points:
Sun x64 systems and storage systems. Microsoft and Sun will continue to work together to test and validate the Windows platform on these systems for scale-up enterprise computing.
Solaris and Windows virtualization. Sun and Microsoft will work together to ensure that Solaris runs well as a guest on Microsoft virtualization technologies and that Windows Server runs well as a guest in Sun’s virtualization technologies. Sun and Microsoft will work together on a support process for customers using the virtualization solutions.
Expanded IPTV partnership. Sun and Microsoft will continue to collaborate to advance the worldwide deployment of the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV and multimedia platform on Sun server and storage systems. (Reference customer: AT&T U-verse digital TV offering).
Expanded investment in interoperability. Microsoft and Sun will build an Interoperability Center on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. The center will include a demonstration area for Sun x64 systems, act as a working lab for Windows on Sun benchmarks and sales tools, and support customers running proofs of concept for projects focused on Windows on Sun x64 systems, including joint Sun/Microsoft solutions in areas such as databases, e-mail and messaging, virtualization, and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) support in Sun Ray thin clients.
All of these are actions that Microsoft would take for any major OEM, but given the past Sun-Microsoft history, things are certainly getting chummy indeed.